At least 2,295 bandits are operating within 24 terrorist cells across Katsina State alone, a United Nations special report has revealed.
The research was carried out by the UN International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and Mercy Corps, carried out between September and October 2023, in collaboration with the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD).
The report titled, “Mapping the potentials of Transitional Justice in Katsina State,” was funded by the European Union and presented in Katsina last week.
The research had identified each terrorist leader by name as well as the numerical strength of each of the cells.
Professor Suleiman Kura of Usman Dan Fodio University Sokoto, who coordinated the research project, said Research Assistants for the work were drawn from their respective Local Government Areas (LGAs), “due to the sensitive nature of the study and in view of the conflicts in the areas.”*
Bandits ravaging Northwest and some parts of Norhcentral have been designated as terrorists by the federal government.
The report said the 24 terrorists’ cells identified by the UN report are clustered within the forests some of which host multiple independent groups.
It added that Katsina is home to some 2,295 terrorists even as the report does not specify the number of bandits in some of the cells.
The report revealed that each group is known to operate independently and a number of police reports often quote residents as estimating the number of bandits to be in excess of 200, “all riding on motorbikes” during each attack.”
However, the research shows that Damburun forest camp alone located in Kankara Local Government Area has a population of 385 terrorists.
Two separate camps identified by the report, located at the Rugu forest of Safana Local Government Area have a combined population of 265 of the bandits
It said there are 175 bandits in the Dutsinma forest, a location that shares boundaries with Federal University Dutsinma.
In Batsari Local Government alone, there are total of six forests housing eight separate gangs with a total population of 695 terrorists.
The report does not indicate the population of bandits in one of the forests identified as “western part of Batsari” and the number of bandits too is not known for bandits in the Matazu forest and the Dunya forest but the report was able to identify their leaders.
Musawa, Malumfashi and Kafur Local Government Areas all share boundaries with Kano State and they have a combined population of 490 bandits in their separate forests.
According to the report, Jibiya Local Government Area which shares international borders with Niger Republic is also home to the Yau-Yau forest with its 30 bandits, Danbedi forest with 175-member strong bandits gang in its Matalawa forest shares boundaries with Jigawa State.
As at 2022, according to an IOM report, the total number of displaced persons from parts of the North-West peaked at 566,459 with 39 percent of the figure from Katsina alone.